Licensing guidance, good practice on firearms law, and forms for applying for approvals under the law.
The possession of firearms and ammunition in Great Britain is regulated mainly by the Firearms Acts 1968.
The Home Office guide on firearms licensing law was last revised in December 2013. It is intended to assist consistency of practice between police forces by providing them with comprehensive guidance, and also to encourage an understanding among firearms users and the general public of the considerations involved.
The guidance is only available as an online document. This will enable us to update the guidance promptly if there are any changes to legislation or processes which help maintain the accuracy of the guidance provided.
Firearms security handbook provides guidance for police and others on securely storing and moving guns.
Firearms security: a brief guide is also available.
The 2011 leaflet Air weapons: a brief guide to safety contains information on the safe handling and storage of air weapons, the different types of air weapons and air weapons and the law.
Approval of rifle and muzzle-loading pistol clubs explains what approval means and how clubs can apply for it. It also explains the criteria and conditions which they must meet in order to obtain approval and remain approved.
Other publications include:
- Air gun owners: new legislation - leaflet from 2004 provides advice on how to comply with the ban on self-contained gas cartridge weapons
Deactivation of firearms - these specifications were revised in 2010
- Firearms and ammunition handed in during the firearms amnesty 2003 - a table outlining the types and numbers of weapons and ammunition handed over
- Section 5 authorisation to protect UK-registered ships: guidance to applicants - outlines the interim authorisation process on the use of armed guards on UK-registered ships.
- Interim process for section 5 authorisation for maritime armed security applications: questions and answers - series of frequently asked question about the process for applicants seeking authorisation under section 5
- Approval or renewal of approval for a rifle or pistol club: application form
- Possess, purchase, acquire, manufacture, sell or transfer prohibited weapons and/or ammunition: application form
April 2014: Notice of a change in law affecting Registered Firearms Dealers and Computerised Records – EU Weapons Directive 2008/51
From 31 December 2014 paper based records will not be acceptable and dealers will be required to keep a register on a computerised filing system for a minimum of 20 years.
Firearms dealers will not be required to record anything more or less than they are already required to do. The only difference for firearms dealers will be the way that they are required to hold their records and the length of time they must hold them for.
Home Office firearms licensing database
April 2014: Please note that the Home Office has commissioned a replacement database for recording the status of applications from Registered Firearms Dealers, shooting clubs and museums. When the database goes live, we will be able to receive applications from firearms dealers and museums on-line. We are intending to become fully digital at the end of the year.
Applications from shooting clubs will continue to be processed in the same way as now – Form 124 completed by the club and submitted to the local police. The police will then make enquiries on behalf of the Home Office prior to sending the application to us for consideration.
Police use of firearms
For general information for the police on the use of firearms, you need to go to the following pages on The National Archives: